Pharmacists typically have between six and eight years of higher education, including undergraduate studies and four years of pharmacy school for the Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Graduate pharmacists must also pass exams for state licensing. This extended training postpones their entry to the job market, but pharmacists receive a solid professional wage once they're working. They averaged just over $9,700 per month as of 2013, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Average Pay and Range
The 2013 BLS survey included 287,420 pharmacists nationwide, who reported an average annual pay of $116,500 -- the equivalent of $9,708 per month. Most pharmacists have full-time jobs.
Pharmacists' median pay came to $119,280 per year or $9,940 per month. The median is the midpoint, so half earned more than $9,940 per month.
The 10th percentile earnings for pharmacists were $7,417 per month on average in 2013, BLS data indicates, while the 25th percentile pay was $8,700. At the 75th percentile, pharmacists averaged $11,363 each month, and the 90th percentile earnings were $12,279.
Experience is an important factor in determining where a worker falls on the pay range, although industry and location also have an effect. In general, a new worker can expect to earn near the 10th or 25th percentile for a profession, according to the BLS. An experienced worker or one with special qualifications typically earns around the 75th or 90th percentile.
Pay by Industry
Most pharmacists work in pharmacies and drug stores, where they averaged approximately $9,823 per month in 2013, the BLS reports. Hospital pharmacists averaged $9,618 monthly, while those in grocery stores averaged $9,359. General merchandise stores paid pharmacists more on average than any other industry -- an average of $10,437 a month.
California had 26,810 pharmacists in 2013, the most of any state, and they earned an average of $10,797 per month, reports the BLS. This made California the second highest-paying state for the profession. Alaska, with only 470 pharmacist jobs, led for pay, reporting an average of $11,086 monthly.
Two metropolitan regions reported average wages exceeding $12,500 monthly for pharmacists in 2013. In Gadsden, Alabama, pharmacists earned $12,892 per month on average, while they averaged $12,606 in the Santa Cruz and Watsonville combined area of California.
The BLS predicts a 14 percent increase in positions for pharmacists from 2012 to 2022, compared to 11 percent for all jobs. Community pharmacies, hospitals and clinics will add more pharmacists. Because pharmacy schools are graduating larger numbers of students, however, the competition for pharmacist jobs will be strong.
Pharm.D. graduates can improve their job prospects by completing an optional residency or pursuing certification from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties.
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